GP leaders in Coventry have provided practices with a leaflet to give to their patients, explaining that general practice is ‘in crisis’ and GPs are working as hard as they can.
The LMC said it acted following comments by health secretary Jeremy Hunt that general practice had been ‘starved of resources progressively’ as ‘penance’ for the 2004 contract – which the BMA said showed GPs were being unfairly punished at a time when they were working harder than ever.
It states that GPs in the city are aware of issues around access, and that the LMC feels patients should know why.
The letter explains: ‘Coventry GPs are aware that some patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get the appointments and services they need from us, and feel you should be made aware of the reasons.
‘Over the past few years, successive governments have reduced the investment in general practice from around 10% of the NHS budget to nearer 7%. In spite of this reduction in funding we still provide 90% of consultations carried out in the NHS.’
In addition, the leaflet highlights the ‘huge difficulties’ in recruiting GPs and nurses, concluding: ‘In short, general practice is in crisis’.
Dr Pete Whidborne, the LMC chair said in an accompanying statement: ‘I am appalled that Jeremy Hunt admits to punishing Coventry patients because he disagrees with a previous Labour Government decision.’
The LMC leaders also said that plans for next year’s contract look set to make matters worse.
Dr Jamie Macpherson, Coventry LMC medical secretary, said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposals for seven-day GP services would lead to ‘decreased access when most of our patients wish to use services during the week, and reduced continuity’.